Integrity Marketing – Backlinks and Coloured Hats

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Lost in a MazeOne of the cornerstones of any traffic generation strategy is getting backlinks to your site. When you have other sites that link to your site the search engines will take notice — at least that is the theory.

But it isn’t as simple as it should be, at least not for an Integrity Marketer.

What Hats Do You Wear?

The basic strategy is straight forward:

  1. Write content (preferably quality) that engages readers and encourages them to take action (e.g. buy, opt in, click on affiliate or CPA link)
  2. Make sure content is optimized for keyword and do on page SEO
  3. Get links from other sites to your page (i.e. backlinks)
  4. Watch traffic (and cash 8=) roll in

The problems arise when you try to follow these steps without putting on a black (or even grey) hat.

Black Hats

You see the work of the black hats all the time:

  • content that is scraped, spun, misleading and/or full of hype
  • sites that use keyword stuffing and misleading keywords
  • backlinks from link farms and blog/forum spam (especially bots)

Most of the black hat techniques involve very little work, generate a lot of content, backlinks and, unfortunately, traffic. Because of the extreme automation you can just set it and it will create hundreds of posts and backlinks out the wazoo.

The question is, do you want wazoo backlinks and content to match?

I’m trusting that your answer is “No!” Perhaps even with some expletives that might need to be deleted 8=)

But how do you compete with the sheer volume that the black hat techniques bring?

Grey Hats

I think this is where so many people slide into their grey hats — especially when it comes to backlinks but I do see it in content as well.

I’ve heard of people outsourcing their backlink creation. Hiring someone to create 1,000 links by commenting on blogs, forums and social media sites. These comments are rarely relevant to the article in question and are often done by bots anyway. So they’re just spam comments.

Or people will create dozens of alternate accounts and post their links several times to generate some buzz on sites like StumbleUpon or Twitter.

But it’s wrong! Completely wrong!

I know that sounds harsh, and we all need to do something to get our quality content seen. I mean, the stuff that we create is much better than the spun garbage the black hats push that still seems to climb to the #1 spot in the search engines.

But the problem is that it is dishonest. Social media sites don’t like it. Bloggers and forum moderators don’t like it. Face it — when you get spam comments on your blog, how do you feel about it?

So why would you do that to someone else?

White Hats

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Backlinking Tips

When you’re building your backlinks keep the following tips in mind:

  • Writing and submitting articles to quality article directories — they can be picked up and syndicated, spreading your link around
  • Writing guest posts for other sites in your niche and sidedoor niches — build up your name and get in front of other readers in your niche
  • Reading posts in blogs and forums and making informed comments — it’s a conversation so be a part of it
  • Linking to other quality posts from your site — this is how the web was meant to be and it builds karma and helps others get to know you and hopefully like you 8=)
  • Getting involved in the social aspects of social media — building relationships
  • Being honest and open — always the best policy


As far as I’m concerned, white hat techniques are the only way to go.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be aggressive with your backlink campaign. Just be honest.

When you post a comment on a blog or forum, do it within the bounds of their comment policy. If you don’t know what it is, then assume that they want a real name, not keywords in the Name field. Some will accept a name and keyword combination. But more and more blogs are just canning the comments that have keywords in the name field.

Make sure that you’ve actually contributed to the conversation. “Amen sister” is fine if you’re a regular and people know you there. But for your first few posts actually say something meaningful, even if it is a contrary opinion. And make sure that you regularly contribute meaningful comments.

Don’t include links back to your article unless it relates to the post — and I mean it is really relevant, not just in the same niche. You’re getting a link to your home page for free so don’t get greedy.

On social media sites, don’t create multiple accounts unless it is allowed. Twitter allows it. Facebook doesn’t. Read the terms of use if you’re not sure.

Even if multiple accounts are allowed, don’t pretend to be someone completely different in order to promote yourself. I have multiple Twitter accounts so that I can deal with multiple niches, but they all have my name on them. I do some cross promotion when it’s appropriate, but I’m up front about it. At some point I may decide to use pseudonyms. But if I do, I won’t use one to promote the other.

But That’s Hard Work

There’s the rub. Keeping the white hat on will require much more effort. But in the long run I trust that it will lead to greater exposure and trust for those who put in the effort.

I like what it says in Psalm 1:1-3:

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. (NIV)

There is always the chance that the white hats will not prevail, but I’d rather be a poor white hat than a successful grey.

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Integrity Marketing – Backlinks and Coloured Hats — 9 Comments

    • Thanks Karen!

      I came across an interesting bumper sticker the other day. It said “Be the Change You Want to See.”

      I know someone famous said that but I forgot to look it up. Keep your white hat on.

      P.S. I like your story about Ms. Riley. It’s nice to have people in our lives who inspire us and bring out the best in us.

      • A quick Google of the quote in my previous revealed that the quote is by Mahatma Gandhi and the full quotation is “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

        If we want to see integrity in internet marketing then we need to show integrity.

  1. Hi Bill, great article I have tried all the hats i.e. black, white, grey and even blue but after a few years it seems that only white hat methods are the most reliable. It’s funny because people want to cut corners and want to get success as quick as possible but this just doesn’t work.

    I like the way you integrated Psalm 1:1-3: into your article (“,)

    • Thanks Robert

      Sometimes I get to thinking that a little grey won’t hurt anyone and will help jump start things for me. But I would have a bit of conscience trouble if I did, so I plod along the trail of the white hats as best I can.

      Most of the grey techniques get penalized by the SE’s eventually, so for long term success we need the slow and steady ways to build.

      By the way, what is the meaning of “Kezanari”?
      Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson recently posted…Why I Changed My Backup PluginMy Profile

  2. Hello! I agree with the higher morality of white hat than other hat SEOs, but I don’t see why a business should have the head of the firm writing all the comments. While the comment should be related to the topic, and written by a real person talking to another real person, I don’t think it matters who writes it. If you have multiple blogs, affiliate pages, you probably have your hands full with all the attention these sites require, so you will have to outsource the comment-writing. The problem is finding people who will do this in the right way, without being spammy or using a bot. I recommend outsourcing this task to only a few people who understand what they are supposed to do, and in order to prevent frauds from running off with your time and money, use an employee monitor software, such as the one I suggested here. This method will keep you under a white hat, and let you spend your time on other tasks only you, the boss, can do for your business.
    I hope this comment sounds useful to everyone!
    Best regards, Leonard

    • Hi Leonard

      You’re right about not having to have the top dog out there posting on forums and commenting on other blogs — although they should when they get a chance.

      The problem is when the link building is farmed out to contractors who do nothing but put inane drivel out there with your link in it. If you are hiring someone to build backlinks for you, then they need to know exactly what you expect from them.

      All content that contains your links should be honest and relate to the topic at hand. And the commenter should actually have read the post and maybe some of the other comments.

      The software you’ve suggested may be just the ticket to allow you to keep tabs on those you hire and ensure that the backlinks they’re creating are ones that you’d be proud to have.

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